Letter: Having tenure doesn’t mean teachers keep their jobs forever

Some myths are just impossible to shake. Teacher tenure is one of them. The myth that tenure provides teachers with a job for life is not true. Teachers are required to undergo an annual evaluation supervised by their building administrator with standards set by the Alaska State School Board.

In Alaska teachers new to a district are considered non-tenure, or probationary. A school district can terminate these employees without cause during their first three years of employment. 

House Bill 162 would now require a new teacher to be on probation for five years. This could make recruiting quality teachers to come to Alaska and stay, difficult. 

A tenured teacher is given a contract for the next school year, unless the district decides to terminate them. If this is the case, they are entitled to due process, meaning the district must have documented justification as to why they should be terminated. 

Tenure — a guaranteed job for life? No. A fair process for terminating employees after they have successfully completed a three year probationary period? Yes.

— Shelly James